The latest discussion in the Capitol Hill Seattle Facebook Group brings together many themes familiar to readers of CHS — public space, parks and p-patches, homelessness… and dogs.
Kim posted this image of the E Olive Way at Summit at Denny Pac-Man pocket park and raises a valid issue — what use is a pocket park if nobody uses it? “I pass this sad scene every day and have never seen anything suggestive of added value going on there,” she writes. “Would make a great pea patch or dog park with a little investment.”
It’s difficult to argue with her — but you can try or add your thoughts by joining the group here.
We have asked the Seattle Department of Transportation which administrates the city’s pocket parks program for clarification on the camping end of things but haven’t yet heard back. Given that some areas of the right of way like parking strips are a camping grey area in the city, we’re asking for more information about campers using the pocket parks. “Cleanups at unauthorized camping sites are prioritized based on health and safety issues observed,” the city’s “unauthorized camping” site reads. “Criminal behavior and obstructing a facility (e.g., camping on the sidewalk) are considered as part of this prioritization.”
The conversation in the CHS group, we’re glad to report, is more about how to better put the spaces to use.
This particular pocket park took shape early last year and replaced street parking spaces, an old bike share station, and a small through street that was a dangerous problem at the busy intersection, according to SDOT. The space was given a fun paint job, some plastic bollards, and planters to help buffer it from the rush of nearby traffic. The Summit project was one of a handful of $70,000 Pavement to Parks projects across the city. The city’s first pilot projects in the program can be found on First Hill around the three-way intersection of University, Union and Boylston and at 9th Ave. The plan is to evaluate the spaces after a couple of years.
Neighbors in the CHS group have begun the evaluation process. “There is one sad enclosed dog park East of I5 and hundreds of dogs,” one person writes. “I live just a block from this ‘park’ and always walk by confused at the point of it.”
“This park would be a lot more pleasant after an Olive Way road diet,” writes another.
In the meantime, there are some changes coming to the area of the little park with a new marijuana retailer lined up to take over the former home of Amante Pizza.
We’ll follow up with SDOT about the space and any opportunities to give it a little more love sooner rather than later.
UPDATE 4/6/2018: We finally heard back from SDOT on the encampment issue at the park:
The City must follow FAS 17-01 and MDAR 17-01 when addressing encampments in rights-of-way, including pocket park encampments. With an estimated 400 unauthorized encampments in Seattle, the City focuses its limited resources on removing encampments that pose the most significant public health and safety impacts to both the surrounding neighborhood and to people living within an encampment. The Navigation Team is aware of this encampment and will conduct outreach to these people living unsheltered, offering services and shelter.
The Pac-Man park encampment “is not currently prioritized for removal” but “the team will continue to monitor conditions within and around the encampment and determine next steps, when necessary,” SDOT tells us.
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